President Tsai Ing-wen’s Journey of Freedom, Democracy, Sustainability is testament to the strength of relations between Taiwan and its Caribbean allies.
The Office of the President held a press conference on the morning of July 1 to announce that President Tsai Ing-wen will lead a delegation on a state visit to Haiti, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia from July 11-22. At the press conference, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Li-Jey Tsao (曹立傑) detailed the itinerary for the state visit.
Vice Minister Tsao stated that President Tsai will visit Haiti, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia, respectively, from July 11-22. The purpose of this visit is to demonstrate the importance Taiwan places on our Caribbean allies, and continue to strengthen our friendly ties with them.
Vice Minister Tsao pointed out that this state visit centers around the themes of freedom, democracy, and sustainability because the four Caribbean countries President Tsai's delegation will be visiting, as well as the United States where she will make transit stops, are all free, democratic, like-minded partners of Taiwan. All these countries actively promote democracy and freedom in the region. During this state visit, the delegation will visit Taiwan's various cooperative programs helping to promote sustainable development in these countries, and we will work to achieve the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he said.
Vice Minister Tsao further stated that over the course of the state visit, President Tsai will meet with Haitian President Jovenel Moise, St. Christopher and Nevis Governor-General Sir Tapley Seaton and Prime Minister Timothy Harris, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, and St. Lucia Governor-General Emmanuel Neville Cenac and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, respectively. President Tsai will discuss and exchange ideas with them regarding bilateral and international issues of mutual concern, and attend state banquets held in her honor. The Order of St. Christopher and Nevis, the country's highest honor, will also be conferred upon President Tsai by Governor-General Seaton for her outstanding contributions to our bilateral friendship. President Tsai will also give an address to Parliament.
Vice Minister Tsao further explained that President Tsai will visit a number of Taiwan's bilateral cooperative projects in these countries, and further advocate Taiwan's steadfast diplomacy with mutual assistance for mutual benefits, so that our allies can achieve the UN's SDGs. She will also attend a banquet with Taiwan Scholarship recipients and alumni from Taiwan universities, and will host a banquet for staff at our embassies and technical missions, and their families, to show our government's care, concern, and encouragement for their work.
Commenting on the planned itinerary, Vice Minister Tsao said the delegation's trip is scheduled as follows: July 11—depart Taiwan at noon, making a two-evening transit stop in the United States; July 13, noon—make a brief visit to Haiti; July 13 (evening) to 16—visit St. Christopher and Nevis; July 16 to 17—visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines; July 17 to 19—visit St. Lucia; July 19 to 21—depart St. Lucia, making a two-evening transit stop in the United States; July 22—return to Taiwan. In all, the trip will last for 12 days and 11 nights. Plans for the transit stops in the US on the outbound and return legs of the trip are still being arranged in consultation with US authorities, with appropriate care being taken to ensure security, dignity, convenience, and comfort. Once the arrangements have been finalized, the Office of the President will release details to the public.
Vice Minister Tsao mentioned that as Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the Caribbean all place high priority on attracting foreign investments and promoting tourism, representatives of industry in Taiwan will be invited to organize a delegation to attend a Taiwan Product Exhibition in Haiti that will coincide with the upcoming trip. President Tsai and Haitian President Jovenel Moise will jointly preside over the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Exhibition to signal their firm intention to continue strengthening the two countries' economic and trade partnership. Also, Taiwan will dispatch a tourism industry delegation to explore the travel environment and market trends in St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They will have the opportunity to establish channels for cooperation with local travel industry firms, spur further exchanges with the travel industry in Taiwan's Caribbean allies, and make arrangements for the Taipei-based Formosa Circus Art to perform in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to showcase Taiwan's diverse culture to the world.
Vice Minister Tsao stated that among those taking part in this delegation will be National Security Council Secretary-General David T. Lee (李大維), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Minister Wu Hsin-hsing (吳新興) of the Overseas Community Affairs Council, and other cabinet and deputy cabinet members, members of the Legislative Yuan, and representatives of business and industry.
Vice Minister Tsao emphasized that pursuing summit diplomacy and building personal friendships with top leaders of Taiwan's diplomatic allies is a key focal point of the government's diplomatic work, and is the most important task for Taiwan as it seeks to promote "steadfast diplomacy" and solidify alliances. President Tsai, he noted, has led three delegations on visits to diplomatic allies in Central and South America since taking office in May 2016, but she has not yet visited our diplomatic allies in the Caribbean. Numerous high-ranking officials from those countries have visited Taiwan, and on multiple occasions have verbally relayed sincere invitations to President Tsai on behalf of their governments and people. President Tsai has also received formal invitations from these countries' governments.
In closing, Vice Minister Tsao explained that President Tsai will have a full agenda during her state visit to these four Caribbean diplomatic allies. Arrangements are still being worked out, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue working with other agencies of the Taiwan government as well as our diplomatic allies to ensure a successful trip.